Clas Ohlson to close all but one UK stores

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One hundred and fifty jobs have been placed in jeopardy as Clas Ohlson announced plans to close all but one of its UK stores.

The 100-year-old Swedish hardware store retailer, which also sells home, leisure and electrical products, revealed that it was continuing to see significant losses in the UK.

After reporting an operating profit drop of 74 per cent to £2.88 million, the retailer said it would close its loss-making stores in the UK, and four loss-making stores in Germany.

Its store in Reading will be the only store in the UK to continue trading.

It still trades from 227 stores across Norway, Sweden and Finland, and sales outside of this region reportedly only account for three per cent of sales.

“We have decided to focus on an online strategy in the UK, as we feel it is the best way to successfully continue in a market that we’re committed to being a part of,” acting UK country manager Jon Peacock said.

“In recent years, we’ve been working on a digital transformation plan and our online business has gone from strength to strength. It’s clear that online, where people can get access to our entire product range, is how our customers like to shop with us.

“We have no plans to withdraw our UK e-commerce operations, and our physical store, in Reading, will remain open. Our German online business will also be managed and operated from our UK base, along with potential new European markets in future.

“Our UK HQ will be relocated so that we can be better positioned for this new development and we’ll be looking at a revised organisation structure for the future including a number of new roles in specialist digital and Ecommerce areas.”

The retailer predicted a one-off cost from the store closures of £18.3 million, but it expected a positive effect on earnings of £6.5 million after the stores are closed.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. What they were ever trying to do has always been a mystery to me. They had an expensive site near me in Kingston but were selling bric-a-brac. How could that ever add up?

  2. I would say the Kinston store was very busy and I’m gutted to see it go. This store had everything and the best place to go for whatever you may be in the need of, whether that’s new DIY tools, light bulbs, kitchen gadgets or a new laptop bag (all of which are my recent purchases from there last year) 🙁

  3. This is the only shop I’ve ever been evangelical about. Everything in that shop is either useful or interesting to me, and the city centre locations (Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle the ones I’ve used the most) made it very convenient. Staff who seem to know their stuff (much more so than Maplins); much better vfm, quality and range than Maplins; in fact when Maplins went bust I assumed it was because Clas killed them; and indeed I still have a little hope that with Maplins gone there will be more market available to Clas.

    Innovative, high quality stuff; I’d sometimes go there just to see what tools had been invented recently. The screwdriver with six different bits on a carousel inside it was a particular highlight. My tax return every year contains more receipts from them than any other retailer, with them gone I’ll be spending more money on worse stuff that is more of a pain in the arse to get. Dunno what the guy from Kingston is on about, wouldn’t surprise me if southerners just never really got the point.

    Good luck to all concerned, best wishes for the future.

  4. Sad reflection on the way English high street going – really liked the store, high quality too and functional and reliable.

  5. Had high hopes for Clas Ohlson going national when they first started opening in the UK; used to frequent the branch in Merry Hill. Have always found them most helpful both in the UK and Sweden.

  6. Shame, they only recently opened the one in Ealing, use to have to go to the Kingston one before that. Reading is just to bit too far.

  7. A great shame the Kingston store will close. It has been exceedingly useful to me for all sorts of items and at a fair price. It’s a great shame the marketing of the Clas Ohlson brand was very poor. No tv ads or press ads to talk about. Perhaps a retail park site would have been cheaper than one in the centre of Kingston. At least we will be able to purchase on line.

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